President Obama has signed the Post 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act (GI Bill 2.0) into law. What does this mean for you? Lots of small changes have a big impact on the way the bill works.
The top five changes that will impact active duty service members:
- Active duty service members, and spouses to whom they have transferred benefits, will now be eligible for the $1000 per year annual book stipend. (Paid at a rate of $41 per credit hour.) (Effective 10/1/2011)
- Funds may be used for a wide range of educational options, including graduate work, apprenticeships, certificates, licenses, and vocational and technical training. (Effective 10/1/2011)
- Funds may be used for placement exams such as the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, ACT and SAT. (Effective 8/1/2011)
- Funds may be used for multiple licensing and certification tests. (Effective 8/1/2011)
- NOAA and PHS forces will now be eligible to transfer their benefits. (Effective 8/1/2011)
- (Sorry, it is important) Active duty service members and their spouses will now be subject to the same tuition caps as veterans. (Effective 3/5/2011)
The top five changes that will impact veterans:
- Students attending classes only online will now be eligible for a reduced housing allowance of up to $673.50 (for full-time students.) (Effective 10/1/2011)
- Housing allowances will be prorated based on the number of credit hours pursued each term. (Effective 10/1/2011)
- Housing allowances will no longer be paid during school break periods. These break times will not count towards the use of housing benefits, so benefits will extend longer but will be less consistent. (Effective 8/1/2011)
- Veterans may now use their benefits for a wider range of schooling, including undergraduate through doctorate degrees, vocational, technical, certificate, on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs. (Effective 10/1/2011)
- The Post 9/11 GI bill will now pay all public in-state tuition, including graduate school. It will pay up to $17,500 per year for private school tuition. (Effective 8/1/2011)
The top change that will impact National Guard and Reserve members:
- National Guard personnel may now use both their AGR and Title 32 service time to qualify for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. (This is effective August 1, 2009, but not payable until October 1, 2011.)
These changes were designed to bring the GI Bill benefits to a wider audience without negatively impacting a large number of students. From comments thus far, the change in how housing allowances are paid will impact the most people, both positively and negatively. If you are a full-time student who relies on the housing allowance, not getting the allowance during forced school breaks could break your budget. If you are a distance learner who is going to get the housing allowance for the first time, this bill provides a huge benefit.
Officials anticipate another frustrating fall semester as they continue to struggle with the previous version of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. These changes will bring a whole new set of challenges to the accounting and payment systems. If you are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill next fall, be prepared for late payments and administrative problems.